Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Letter Game

After visiting Laura's blog, I decided I'd play the The Letter Game. If you want to play too, visit Liz! Liz gave me the letter "S". My task is to list ten things that begin with the letter "S" that I love. My problem? I couldn't stop at 10! Sorry. Anyway, here goes:

1. Simply Jesus!- my One and Only.
2. Snuggling with my honey.
3. Son - my teenage son is my best chum ever!
4. Sisters - sisters by birth or re-birth - I love all my girlfriends
5. Solitude - I need my quiet time.
6. Simple pleasures - a cup of hot chocolate by the fire, curled up with a good book.
7. Sipping tea with a friend.
8. Sundays and Sundae's - the Sabbath is my favourite day and ice-cream is my favourite indulgence - ANYTHING chocolate!
9. Swings - still enjoy a trip to the park and an old fashioned swing.
10. Special days - I like making any day into a celebration.
11. Switzerland - it really is my number one dream holiday.
12. Shape - getting physically fit with my Wii.
13. Savouring chocolate - did anyone say Dark, Orange Chocolate?
14. Singing - always have a tune in my heart and I can make a song out of anything.
15. Seasons - I love the SNOW!
16. Sense of humour - relish in a good laugh.
17. Sharing God stories - especially as I lead the Ladies Bible Study.
18. Sayings - I collect quotes.
19. Second chances - Thank You Lord.
20. Socks - purchasing what I call 'fun socks'.
21. Sound of Music - one of my favourite movies.
22. Sitting on the beach - up north at our trailer in the summer.
23. Surprises - giving and receiving them.
24. Siesta's across the border - love y'all
25. Saving grace - Praise the Lord.
26. Starbucks - Coffee anyone?
27. Strengthening myself in the Lord.
28. Shopping - especially purchasing gifts for other people.
29. Stories - I could spend all day in a bookstore or with my nose buried in a book.
30. Smiles - wish I could see yours!

Now...I'm going to take this one step further. I will now share with you 10 things I don't love!

1. Spotlight - I'm a behind-the-scenes girl.
2. Sin
3. Satan
4. Suffering
5. Standing for long periods of time.
6. Spiders
7. Speaking in front of other people - although God keeps calling me to do this!
8. Sarcasm - if it's not said lovingly in fun.
9. Storms - environmental and personal.
10. Submitting to the rules of this game! (Hahaha - obviously I didn't. I'm living well outside the box!)

Hope you enjoyed!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Dart Practice

I'm going to do something here that I've never done before. I'm going to post the same writing on both my blogs. For those of you who are unaware, I am daily writing my response to my Bible reading as I read through a chronological Bible this year on my other blog, "Pondering In His Presence". You are more than welcome to visit whenever you can. Whether or not you are reading through the Bible or not with me, I hope you will find some encouragement. Sweet blessings to you all today.


“It’s pretty sad when it’s hard being a Christian at a Christian school.”

That sentence has echoed through my thoughts over the past couple of weeks. A friend of mine expressed her frustration to me while sharing a situation that had devastated her recently. For the second time now her teenage son, who attends a private Christian school, has been the recipient of threats to cause bodily harm.

Wait a minute. Don’t the majority of these students profess a personal relationship with Jesus? Should not these pupils be the most loving, kind and forgiving young people? Would they not be the first to respond in any situation with a Christ-like manner? Oh how we long to answer affirmatively to those questions. We want to believe there’s a difference. Sadly, their actions speak louder than words and reveal their true heart condition.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not trying to point a finger or criticize Christian education. I’m just saying that pain seems compounded when it is delivered to us from those whose faith and beliefs walk the same path as ours. “If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God.” Psalm 55:12-14

Sadly this behaviour is not contained within the halls of education. Outside the walls of these institutions, homes are tutoring these children in lessons that cause division. Denomination against denomination. Preferences against precepts. Relativity against absolute truth. Grey against black and white. Church against church. Country against country. The lines that divide us aren’t geographical. Anger rises. Jealousy flows.

I attended an event years ago that remains etched in my memory. The attendees at this celebration were all believers to my knowledge, yet what I witnessed that evening broke my heart. As conversation took a turn, and jokes became brash, crude and questionable, I was shocked to see what the majority considered “acceptable”. I felt like an outsider among my brothers and sisters in Christ. My heart ached.

Yes, it is sad when it’s hard being a Christian among other Christians. When the ridicule comes from family and not foe the pain cuts deep. I think this is what Job was feeling when his friends began to offer advice and help. Job 12: 4 says, “…my friends laugh at me, for I call on God and expect an answer.” Have you been there? Sitting in a circle of Christ-followers, sharing passionately what the Lord is doing in your life, and the blank stares and condescending remarks cut deeper than any physical wound. The pain is not just the callus words that strike you, but the agony that these dear friends don't understand, having ears yet they do not hear.

Maybe it’s criticism, disapproval, judgement or fault-finding that has you sitting with Job this morning. You have been the target of some dart practice and the remarks have all hit the bulls-eye of your heart and you have been viciously wounded. As Glynnis reminded me this morning in her excellent devotional, we can’t get side-tracked by critics. Respond like Job, cry out to Him and seek His face. “He uncovers mysteries hidden in darkness; he brings light to the deepest gloom.” Job 12:22.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

He sees

As I've been reading some blogs recently and listening to the concerns and burdens of some friends, my heart has been heavy. I have one friend in particular who seems to be taking hit after hit. She has become life's punching bag and every time she tries to stand another blow sends her flying and it's hard knock after hard knock. Attacks from gloved fists seem to be stealing her air to even breathe.

Cliche, pat answers and scriptures seem hard to give and even tougher to receive. She knows every Bible passage that comes to mind at these times. The knowing is not the difficulty. Finding the truth in them is the struggle when circumstances attempt to hide their validity. When every day just waking up is the victory even though another day brings bigger challenges and the blankets present a better invitation than the hours stretching ahead.

Right now, no matter which direction she faces, the world looks bleak. She is a survivor sitting among the ruins. Storms have brought devastation and the winds are still blowing. I wrote to her today and told her how I wish I could wisk her away for 24 hours where life couldn't touch her...where she could forget every concern and burden that is pressing in on her heart. I know it wouldn't change her circumstances, but just briefly she could remember what was and what is to come instead of what is.

There are no words as I watch her pain. I know God is able and I'm praying that He will show Himself mighty. Sweet friend, if and when you read this know that I'm on the mat wrestling for you. May this song minister to your heart.

"A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out." Isaiah 42:3

(If you are visiting here looking for my daily post of how God is speaking to me as I read through the Chronological Bible, click here.)

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

I've Made a Discovery...

You might as well know that if you're visiting here for some word of encouragement today or depth of insight, move on. I know what it's like out there in blogland - barely enough time to read all the posts you want to come back another day if you want value for your time.

Right now I'm looking for some commiseration. I made a discovery today. My twin sister got all the cooking genes!

OK...I've been upfront about my lack of kitchen skill. It's been no secret. I haven't ever tried to impress anyone with my culinary ability. I admit to opening mixes instead of starting from scratch. I'm not embarrassed by my freezer full of "M&M" boxes (no, not the candy...the frozen food!). My name is not Betty Crocker or Sarah Lee. Nor am I Rachael Ray or Martha Stewart. I'd be happy just to be Pillsbury Dough, but even that's a stretch.

What prompted these feelings of inadequacy today?

Doesn't that look appetizing? That's SUPPOSE to be a homemade loaf of bread! Look at it! It's got more craters than the moon and is bumpier than most roads here in Ontario - and that's saying something! My husband thought it WAS a 'blog'

How did this happen? I followed the recipe perfectly. I even watched the video demonstration that came with the breadmaker. I measured meticulously. All you do is throw the ingredients in and the breadmaker is suppose to do the rest. It let me down big time!

Normally, I wouldn't have cared. I mean, this isn't the first time something I've tried to bake in the kitchen hasn't turned out - it's a daily occurance - but, for some reason, I was so disappointed tonight. I had tried really hard to go the extra mile and do something special, and my "special" ended up in the garbage!

I've tried to better myself. I took a night school course a couple of years ago with a girlfriend. It said it was for beginner's in the kitchen. The course outline sounded perfect. The first night we made a dish I couldn't pronounce with utensils I had never seen. The second class only 3 students returned. That alone should have spoken volumes right then, but it only made me feel sorry for the instructor. So, beside the fact that this chef was speaking a foreign language to me, I decided to stick it out and see what I could learn. I was paying big bucks because I didn't want to hurt this guys feelings. He was a really nice guy. He was the head cook at a fancy smancy hotel in Toronto and he would share stories of cooking for celebrities that came into town. I've always remembered how kindly he spoke of John Travolta. Anyway, unless your family eats mutton weekly or finishes each meal with crème brûlée, this really didn't seem to be a "beginner's" cooking class to me.

You know, it wouldn't be so bad trying new recipes and making a mess in the kitchen if I actually had the enjoyment of some home-made delectables, but I'm only tantalizing my tastebuds. Nothing ever turns out like the photograph in the recipe book and most attempts need to be accompanied by a quick glass of water to wash down each valiant effort.

It doesn't help having a sister with the midas touch. She not only can make anything taste good, but she does it with the ease of June Cleaver. Meanwhile, I'm more like Lucille Ball.

So, tonight I surrender my apron. Not only did the bread fail miserably, but the crock-pot recipe I tried was dry and as I went to bring the butter dish to the table it slipped from many hands and my floor was now greased better than my baking pans. Anybody want to invite me for dinner tomorrow night? I could bring the bread! :o)

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Unsettle Me Too

For the past four days there has been an unease in my spirit. Words have gripped my heart so deeply and refuse to let go. They have consumed me so completely that at every turn I hear them repeated over and over again. Words that have taken full residence in my heart and forced me to come face-to-face with what has been and what can be.

Reading my friend Lysa's blog post on New Year's Day, her prayer ignited a fire in my soul. Her writing began with two words, "Unsettle me".

Just the day before I had been reading how the Lord had "settled" David in Hebron. I was reading how He "settled" Abraham and Moses and I began to long for the "settled life". Time to rest, build strength, develop roots. A time to catch my breath and maybe even coast a bit on the ship of contentment and complacency. There's hazards here. Such idle floating preceeds drifting. In less than twenty-four hours the Lord had my attention.

Unsettle me.

God extended and invitation through Lysa's words and I accepted.

Leaving complacency behind, I want to have courage to embrace all the Lord has for me. I desire that He purge every part. As my thoughts have been focusing on what the "unsettled life" might bring, He has also warned me of the danger of the settled life that can look so appealing.

Settled things grow stagnant. Mold forms. Disease develops. A settled pond, birdbath or puddle of water attracts mosquitoes that carry virus. Settling can cease the flow of living waters that need to flow through our lives.

I bake a cake, (not often, but it does happen :o) take it out of the oven, and as it cools it settles...and falls. I was thinking how settling preceeds falling. There's no such thing in God's economy as standing still. We are either growing closer to Him or falling away. Settling is a step closer to falling away.

When my Mom had her hip replacement last year, the Dr's didn't want her to stay 'settled'. Rehabilitation started almost immediately to get the blood flowing to avoid clotting. The settled life clogs our spiritual arteries as well. I want the flow of Christ's life-giving blood to impact me.

When a business deal is settled it speaks of a decision being made. Finality. Closure. Deal done. Completed. In this respect I don't ever want to be 'settled' or 'finished'. I am a work in progress. The handshake on this 'deal' doesn't happen until heaven.

Within all this unsettling though, I do desire a settled heart in Christ. I want to stand firm on His promises and not waver. I want to hang unto that "Anchor that keeps the soul, steadfast and sure as the billows roll".

God wants me sitting at His feet, but not settling there. I can't be so heavenly minded that I'm no earthly good. I take what He speaks to my heart and go. After fellowship comes followship.

I pray that He will unsettle me. I want to feel the discomfort. I don't want the past to dictate my future. I want to abandon acceptance. I want to surrender, not to tolerance of the belief that transformation is out of my reach, but surrender to My King who searches every part, reveals wickedness, cleanses me from every stain and sets me free. I want to be changed. Changed by a God who never changes. A God who is the same yesterday, today and forever. A God who within His sameness gives new mercies every morning and who can't be predicted or fathomed. Oh for the holiness that comes with the unsettled life.

Thank you Lord, for so quickly calling me from yesterday's longing of contentment to today's yearning for holiness. Father, I am Yours. Unsettle me.

**If you are visiting here looking for my daily writing as we read through the chronological Bible this year, please visit my other blog, "Pondering In His Presence". Thanks.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Joy Comes in the Morning

“And now let us welcome the New Year
Full of things that have never been.”
Rainer Maria Rilke

I enjoy new beginnings. I like fresh starts. I embrace the idea of celebrating at every opportunity.

There’s often a large amount of planning that goes into welcoming January 1st each year. Invitations are giving. Decorations displayed. Party favours purchased. Special trays of goodies are prepared. We bid goodbye to the old year and anticipate the new with a spirit of remembrance and joy. For some this past year has held untold heartache. Losses that will remain until eternity. For others its been a year of challenge and growth. My heart holds so many treasured moments from 2008. Part of me doesn’t want to let go. Part of me wants to cling to the year that brought so much joy. Times of such breathtaking delight in my Saviour. Knowing His nearness. Embracing His promises. Abandoning fear and stepping out in faith. Seeing dreams come true. Hearing God speak. New friends who have become so precious that my heart can barely contain the happiness, that with even just the slightest thought of them my eyes are swimming in uncontained fountains of sentiment as they are more precious to me than gold.

This year as our family experienced some uncertainties over the holidays, both with my husbands employment situation and health challenges that I was facing, the Lord opened my eyes afresh to the gift of life He gives us each day. Every day should be a time of rejoicing. Each moment is a present to be treasured. His mercies are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness. As we enter this New Year, it is my desire to make it a year of praise.

Praise does not always come easily. Some days my heart is so overwhelmed with God’s goodness and grace that praise comes naturally. It is the response of all being right, well and good in my corner of the world. At other times I understand only too well that we are also called to offer a ‘sacrifice of praise’ (Hebrews 13:15). Praising God has absolutely nothing to do with circumstances. A heart filled with praise and worship comes from looking into the face of God and knowing He’s all I ever need. He alone is worthy of my praise! “In His presence there is fullness of joy.” Psalm 16:11b

To cultivate a heart of praise, I need to spend daily time with God. This year as I join many of my friends in reading through a chronological Bible over the course of the next twelve months, I want to allow Christ to probe every part of my heart. I desire that Christ have control of every detail. I don’t want to treat any part of His Word as familiar. Recently I was reading a passage that contained a verse I had memorized years ago, and as I skipped over it quickly to continue my reading, suddenly it hit me. I was treating the ultra-holy as ordinary. The power of God’s Word had lost it’s importance. I was skimming instead of savouring every line, phrase, word. I pray the Lord will draw my attention to every Word in His love letter to me and my reverence for Him will deepen. May nothing seem too small or insignificant.

Let’s celebrate each day and know that God is with us. He holds all the plans for our future and we can trust Him. His plans for us are good and He desires to give us a hope and future (Jeremiah 29:11).

I’m praising Him today - not for what He has done or is doing, but for who He is!

“Whatever happens, dear brothers and sisters, may the Lord give you joy …” Philippians 3:1 (NLT)

May His will be mine in 2009.
Happy New Year,
With love and prayers.

(For any of you interested, this year, on my other blog, "Pondering in His Presence", as a method of accountability for me, I will be writing a daily post as I read through a chronological Bible over the next 364 days. Join me if God gives you that desire.)